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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Nov 23, 2014

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SMART WOMEN run Fort Bragg, Ukiah and Mendocino County. They also tend to run local school districts and almost all Mendocino County's bureaucracies. I don't point this out as some kind of oinker gender-slam but simply as a fact of local life. I'd suppose women do better in public employment because it's fairer than the private sector.

THE SMART LADIES naturally prefer silly, inept people sitting on the city councils, school boards and the board of supervisors because smart, independent people can be inconvenient, what with pointed questions for the management the boards of directors are supposed to be directing and supervising.

THE FORT BRAGG CITY COUNCIL, since the departure of Dan Gjerde for Board of Supervisors, has subjected Fort Bragg to a 5-0 Silly People council, hence a city run by the city manager. Ditto for Ukiah where even sillier people comprised a 3-2 majority, which translated as a lot of civic blunders. Fort Bragg's major civic blunder is preliminary approval of a $5 million trash transfer station which will mean higher garbage rates for the Mendo Coast.

THE SUPERVISORS only have one certified Silly Person, Dan Hamburg, on an otherwise thoughtful, responsible board. Hamburg of course represents the County's silliest supervisor's district, the 5th. He'd be too wacky for the rest of the County, even though he'd be widely embraced in the 4th District where Silly People, cf the Iacuaniello vote, are coming on strong.

BUT ALL FIVE supervisors are led around by the nose by their CEO, Carmel Angelo, hence the recent round of raises for Angelo herself (from $150k to $180 — a five year contract) and County Counsel Doug Losak while County workers still haven't had their voluntary pay cut restored.

RULE BY LAVISHLY COMPENSATED managers occurs out of the false notion that elected bodies and their managers are one management "team." This errant assumption means no clear lines of authority, and when things go wrong, as they often do, it's difficult, especially in the amnesiac context of ahistorical Mendo, to assign responsibility. Quick! Tell me who was on the Board of Supervisors when the fiscally disastrous retirement decision was made? That decision has permanently bankrupted Mendocino County.

A RECENT EXAMPLE of Silly in action occurred in Fort Bragg when the City, with Silly People leading the charge, and we'll define Silly here as smug, pretentious and narcissistic persons dominant in the public life of this county, dumped their long-time lawyers for a Frisco firm.

FORT BRAGG wanted local legal representation for the City but, according to the Fort Bragg Advocate, "I came into this totally prepared to go for a local team," said Vice Mayor Meg Courtney. "I came in thinking I knew who we were going to select, and I was just sure they were going to get in because I know them and I respect them and I wanted to shop local. And I think other council members felt that way too. But when they came in they didn't exactly stand up to what we expected and I think Samantha, well, she knocked my socks off too. And she's very qualified, plus she has this big team behind her. It was clear that she would like to be here, and it was clear by the end that we would like her to be."

SAMANTHA? Already on a first name basis, Courtney was committing Fort Bragg to legal representation with all the knowledge and objectivity of a panelist on American Idol, and the cozy first name ref is highly suspicious indicating insider trading. Courtney went on to say the Frisco lawyer wouldn't cost any more than one of the three locals who applied. Doubt it. Factor in travel and fees double.

QUOTING FROM THE ADVOCATE, "Council member Heidi Kraut said when interviewing the finalist the council kept three things in mind: the cost of services, the preparation of the teams being interviewed and protecting the interests of the city. ‘When we looked at these three things, there was no one who could compete with the firm that we selected,’ said Kraut. ‘We are very serious about protecting the city, protecting the city's finances and protecting the taxpayer money. We looked very closely at the costs for a local firm and a larger firm from out of town and we picked the choice that made the most sense for Fort Bragg’."

THERE WAS MORE talk of the I AM INFALLIBLE variety from councilman Dietz: "[This attorney] can go down the hall and talk to somebody who's a specialist in any area," he said. "And they're up on new legislation, and recent court decisions, they know about it right away."

"THE THREE-YEAR contract states that basic legal services will be charged at a rate of $225 per hour for associates and partners. Special legal services will cost $240 per hour and travel fees will amount to $900 per trip from San Francisco to Fort Bragg."

$900? What's it cost you to drive from Mendocino County to the city and back?

THE SILLY PEOPLE talk endlessly about buying local, but here's another example of a public entity not doing it.

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ALTHOUGH we've received about three inches of rain, the Navarro is still closed at the mouth. The large rock that sits at the mouth helps gauge the amount of sand that has built up. Only the very top of that rock is visible now.


Fletcher's granddaughter, Elsie, described the breakwater: “They found that the mouth of the Navarro River wasn't deep enough at times to get the boats out into the ocean. So my grandfather built a breakwater. It was fastened on this big rock out to that pointed rock that sits in the mouth of the Navarro River. That's called Pinnacle Rock. Between that and the bluff up across the beach to a big rock there, he made this breakwater. It was over six feet square. It was built out of huge big timbers and filled with rocks and anchored at both places. After he built that, the river never closed up and it kept the mouth of the river deep.”

The wharf Elsie refers to in her notes is probably the breakwater Fletcher built at the mouth of the Navarro:

Fletcher's breakwater (
Hattie Thurston Collection)

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A READER who participated in the Mental Health Board meetings during the run up to the award of a good hunk of the County's Mental Health services to present Mental Health Director's Tom Pinizzotto’s former employer, Ortner Management Group, has told us that during one of those meetings, Pinizzotto made it clear that the other bidder for the work, Optum Health Services, a big player in the the US’s corporate healthcare system, “wasn't really a serious bidder,” and therefore the only “serious bidder” would be his former employer Ortner, a much smaller outfit out of Marysville. Pinizzotto then worked with Ortner to make them appear to be “local” by 1. "Partnering" them with Redwood Children Services, and 2. Acquiring the Redwood Creek Board and Care facility in Willits and placing a few local mental health clients there instead of driving them to Marysville.

ORTNER made a big deal out of promising to hire County employees from Mendocino County's Mental Health (and other) department(s). And thus when it came time for County leadership to score the two bidders, even though Optum had much more experience and professional qualifications, Ortner got extra points for being “local” and for its rhetorical promises to hire local employees.

OPTUM said they would "try" to hire local. And that, in a nutshell, was how Pinizzotto made sure his former employer would get the contract in spite of Optum’s superior capability and much longer history of delivering such services.

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CORRECTION: We inadvertently typed “MCPA” (the Promotional Alliance) when we meant MCLA (the Lodging Association) toward the end of the quote from Lodging Association Board member Marcos Magdaleno in last week’s Visit Mendocino Take 2 story. The concluding two sentences should have said: “We strongly believe that that is the goal of our current MCLA [not MCPA] board. We adamantly urge you to not move forward with the new BID ordinance.” — Mark Scaramella

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THE LOCAL ANGLE. From the L.A. Times re water thefts: "Some of those doing the stealing are companies that sell water to homeowners with dry wells. Ads that say 'I will deliver water to your property' are quickly flagged, Carrigan said. His enforcement division calls the number, sets up a delivery and often catches the pilferers in action.

'People have been caught, and people have been cited,' said Carre Brown, Mendocino County supervisor and chairwoman of a countywide drought task force.

Mendocino, on California’s North Coast, is a hotbed of illegal marijuana grows. 'I would say the main culprits were the ones who were looking to water marijuana gardens,' she said. 'The penalties in California are not harsh enough.'

At a construction site for a Highway 101 bypass, some water poachers tried to get into the water-truck line used by construction crews. Some tried to masquerade as fire crews to get at water kept at Cal Fire camps.

The Association of California Water Agencies has seen water theft incidents bubbling up around the state but has no hard numbers because most of the evidence is anecdotal, said Lisa Lien-Mager, an association spokeswoman. 'We may see the trend continue if drought conditions persist into 2015.'

She warned that water rustling is far from an everyday occurrence and that “that’s important to keep in mind.”

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Subject: Re: [MCN-Discussion]- MendoVito
Date:   Fri, November 21, 2014 4:21 pm
To: "Cindy Swan" <> (et al)

You know, I'm sitting here at a computer near a wood stove in a wool vest which I bought at Corners, which Susan Bodine crocheted 43 years ago, using yarn from the sheep she'd recently learned to shepherd. Dyed with mushroom parts. I've worn this vest every winter since and have never had to wash it. It was a gift to myself after the home birth of my daughter. This project that is being disparaged is visionary: no less visionary, just a little more orderly, than the tread-gently-on-this-earth mindset of the thousands of young adults who came all at once into Mendocino County in the late-sixties and seventies: who found each other and settled into the cheap logged-over land, re-inhabited the old ranches: established communes and collectives and homesteads (and Road Associations and Greenfield Ranch); then organized and fought tooth and nail to have included in the County Housing code the Class K housing we built without permits and the lifestyle we called 'Simple Living' that included pooping in outhouses. . . It seems to me MendoVito is a legitimate attempt at settlement for what is needed here for who is here right now, and for whom there is not adequate housing. Kind of a cross between the European and Pomo sense of village. Not much curtelage, half the acreage held as a Commons for agricultural pursuits. That would include individual pursuits.   And these very practical visionaries who want to establish such a settlement are looking at land in McDowell Valley right past the casino in Hopland, right past the crowded Hopland Rancheria, where some of the elders see MendoVito as an opportunity for housing and work for their younger generation.  And others will soon contemplate as a space where their own kids can get a foothold in Mendocino County. And that would make MendoVito the only exurban settlement in Mendocino County where Indian people and young white folks with Slow Food agrarian intentions and members of the Hispanic workforce in this County could and would live in an integrated housing complex they set the rules for.   And for this to happen, there will be housing subsidies. I called the "kiwi" after Laurie's made the initial inquiry on the Announce listserv.  Claude, answers his own phone, he's originally from Conn.  Re-settled in New Zealand to raise his own child.  It was 5th District Supervisor Dan Hamburg who introduced him to the owner of the McDowell Valley property a man (or a woman or a couple): an ownership that was holding out for a right living situation to follow them. An alternative to yet another thirsty vineyard.   Conceptually, the schemata is a Historic Village: narrow streets, no cars; it restricts any further residential development from happening for the next 50 years and will guard against empty 2nd Home purchases ("hollow homes" Claude called them) by requiring occupation by the owner (or a renter)  ten months of the year. The technology will adapt to whatever climate befalls us. These folks are innovative in ways we are innovative.  And, as is, the plan probably could not get through the Planning Department. And so the MendoVito fellows are going to use the avenue of  a Citizens Sponsored Land Use Initiative, which requires a petition signed by 20% of the voters in order to bring in front of the Board of Supervisors to either pass or put on a ballot. Shades of Measure S!  Rule of the mob. Our version of democracy in Mendocino County.  . . . Who knew it could happen in these ways.

— beth bosk

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From: "April Dice"
Sent: Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:56:16 -0800
Subject: Re: [MCN-Discussion]- MendoVito

Hi, Beth.

It sounds as though you have researched and know MendoVito intimately. Can you tell us more factual info about the people, organization, vitals, history and recommendations, plans, etc.? Who is behind this? Who benefits? Is it a non-profit? Is there govt money coming to build it?   I appreciate your lyrical post and the romanticism, tying in our history and experience of Mendo. Not quite certain how that history ties into this project. I have heard for the first time that this is a Native American project, tied in some way to the Pomo. Is it they who invited these folks in?   The story behind the name sounds compelling and yummy. I want to know more. Are there that many Pomo young people who need housing?   I heard on kzyx that the housing that will cost $500,000 will subsidize the lower income housing. Who are these wealthy people who will be buying in and where do you see them coming from?   Will this be on a reservation?   Thanks. April Dice

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Subject: Re: [MCN-Discussion]- MendoVito
Date:   Fri, November 21, 2014 9:15 pm
To:     "April Dice" <>

April: For goodness sakes! I read Lauri York's post, opened up the website, found a telephone number and called it. (You can do the same.) A guy named Claude (the founder) picked up the phone and addressed the questions most pertinent to me. I summed all that up in my post. It was like a twelve minute conversation. When he told me that Dan Hamburg had driven him around and introduced him to the current land owner, I believed him. I know Dan's heart and this endeavor is a perfect fit. I didn't call to do a story. I don't intend to do any back checking. (And I never said this was a Native American project. Please re-read my post. I'm sorry you didn't get what I was getting at). 'Citizen Sponsored Land Use Initiative' is the keyword here. Whomever follows through on bringing this settlement to fruition needs the signatures of 20% of the registered voters in Mendocino County. (And I love that strategy: the Mendocino County Department of Planning and Building sucks. It's also corrupt.) The proponents will be doing public meetings all over the county, just like the Measure S folks did. If anything, they will have to tweak the financial strategies so that men and women living on local wages, young people raised here, young people already in the locavore movement, have a way to buy in. Otherwise, this project will not win as a Ballot Measure. If this starts feeling like gentrification and Google moving in, it will fall flat. But that's not what the short conversation I had felt like. It really felt visionary and inclusive and neighborly in all its aspects. . . . I would hope Dan Hamburg chimes in. So. No "Intimacy" or checked out "factual information" re. the people, organization, vitals, history blah, blah. –beth bosk

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One thing I appreciate about the approach is the 25% low-income set-aside and other financing methods that will be employed to insure that this does not turn into an elitist community. The fact that the first community meeting was co-sponsored by the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC) and the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians bodes well. Also, the fact that the hall overflowed with people who love the Sanel Valley and greatly value their home base bodes well. This project won't go forward unless it is the will of a strong majority of local and County residents. The Board of Supervisors wouldn't allow that to happen (in my opinion). Dan [Hamburg]

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CATCH OF THE DAY, November 22, 2014

Bauer, Clark, Erich
Bauer, Clark, Erich

JESSICA BAUER, Ukiah. Burglary, grand theft, sale of meth, failure to appear. (repeat, with current mugshot)

ROBERT CLARK, Boonville. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

LOIS ERICH, Ukiah. Under influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.

Fischer, Hoag, Lozoya-Diaz
Fischer, Hoag, Lozoya-Diaz

AARYAN FISCHER, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

DENNIS HOAG, Ukiah. Possession of smoking/injection device.

ANTONIO LOZOYA-DIAZ, Santa Barbara/Navarro. Drunk in public.

McManus, Moses, Neeley
McManus, Moses, Neeley

PAUL MCMANUS, Ukiah. Court order violation.

STEVEN MOSES, Ukiah. Public begging.

SHERRI NEELEY, Ukiah. Under influence of controlled substance. (repeat, with current mugshot)

Sharp, Sutherland, Swanson, Tadeo
Sharp, Sutherland, Swanson, Tadeo

KYLE SHARP, Albion/Ukiah. Possession/Under influence of controlled substance, possession of smoking/inhaling device.

BRANDON SUTHERLAND, Santa Rosa/Laytonville. Contempted of court.

CARL SWANSON, Gualala/Fort Bragg. Probation revocation, battery on peace officer.


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PERHAPS there is a reason why people don’t understand how bad the water crisis really is — their daily lives have yet to be impacted. Unless the winter and spring of 2015 bring drenching rains, California only has 12-18 months of reserves left. Even the most optimistic of forecasts show a rapid decline in water reserves in the state in the decades to come. To put it in perspective, California hasn’t seen this drastic of a decline in rainfall since the mid-1500s. “This is a real emergency that requires a real emergency response,” argues Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “If Southern California does not step up and conserve its water, and if the drought continues on its epic course, there is nothing more that our water managers can do for us. Water availability in Southern California would be drastically reduced. With those reductions, we should expect skyrocketing water, food and energy prices, as well as the demise of agriculture.” While it’s clear that the decline in the state’s water reserves will have a very real economic and day-to-day impact on Californians in the near future, it’s also having an inexorable and devastating effect on the environment.

— Joshua Frank

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by Dan Bacher

Erin Brockovich, the legal clerk and environmental activist who was instrumental in building a case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company in 1993 for its contamination of drinking water in the Southern California town of Hinkley, is speaking out against the use of unlined pits to dispose of the massive volumes of wastewater produced by oil and gas companies conducting fracking and other oil extraction methods in the Central Valley.

On her Facebook page, she points out the irony of the oil companies employing this environmentally unsound practice that threatens precious groundwater and surface water supplies during the time of a historic drought in California:

“I am thankful California has so much water to spare it can just waste it in our oil fields.

Unlined pits are a commonly used disposal method for an unknown, yet potentially significant, portion of the 130 billion gallons of wastewater produced annually from oil and gas operations.

According to Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) records, at least 432 unlined pits are currently being used for disposal of oil and gas wastewater in the Central Valley, and most have been operating with significantly out-of-date waste discharge permits, or no permits at all.

The discharge of wastewater into unlined pits threatens water resources, including potential sources of drinking and irrigation water, and impacts air quality due to the off-gassing of chemicals from the wastewater. The majority of these pits are near waterways, increasing the likelihood that spills and surface-to-groundwater migration will impact water resources. There has been no comprehensive review of locations of pits in relation to high quality groundwater.”

Not only do DOGGR records show that at least 432 unlined pits are currently being used for disposal of oil and gas wastewater, but documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity reveal that almost 3 billion gallons of oil industry wastewater were illegally dumped into Central California aquifers that supply drinking water and irrigation water for farms.

The Center said the wastewater entered the aquifers through at least nine injection disposal wells used by the oil industry to dispose of waste contaminated with fracking (hydraulic fracturing) fluids and other pollutants. (

The documents also reveal that Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board testing found high levels of arsenic, thallium and nitrates, contaminants sometimes found in oil industry wastewater, in water-supply wells near these waste-disposal operations. (

Not only are Central Valley and coastal groundwater and surface waters threatened by the oil industry, but people concerned about the future of fish, wildlife and the oceans are outraged by the fact that Southern California's oceans were fracked over 200 times during the past 20 years.

Citing fracking pollution’s threats to coastal communities and marine wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity on November 12 delivered a petition signed by more than 30,000 people urging Governor Jerry Brown to halt offshore fracking in California’s coastal waters.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and media investigations by Associated Press and reveal that the ocean has been fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years in the Santa Barbara Channel and other locations in the south state. (

The petition was released the same week that a new report published by Will Barrett, the Senior Policy Analyst for the American Lung Association in California, revealed that the oil industry from July through September 2014 spent a record $7.1 million lobbying legislators in Sacramento. (

Not only should Brown ban fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques in California's ocean waters, but he should ban them on the land throughout the entire state.

Two other things must happen also to challenge the oil industry's grip on California politics.

First, an investigation must be conducted into how Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, the key lobbying organization for the oil industry, was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to oversee the creation of fake "marine protected areas" in Southern California waters. This is an extreme conflict of interest, especially at a time when the oil industry was fracking like crazy in Southern California coastal waters.

This is not just a case of where the regulated have captured the regulators. In the case of the MLPA Initiative, the regulated - a big oil lobbyist and other corporate interests - actually served as the regulators!

Second, the fake "marine protected areas" created under the MLPA Initiative must be made into authentic "marine protected areas." Currently these alleged "Yosemites of the Sea" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering. The state of California must also ban fracking, oil drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing and other harmful impacts on the ocean in the state's marine protected areas.

For more information, go to: or

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Head Games

by Jeffrey St. Clair

Picture the circumstances. You’re evaporating politically, less and less remains of you every week. The nation itself is quivering with anxiety, freaking out over each new virus or decapitation posted on Instagram. The economy, six years after the crash, continues to be catatonic: half the GDP generated by liquidation sales, the other half driven by enterprises that require HazMat suits. There’s scant hope of finding an exit from that gnawing vortex, not with the gang running the Hill these days.

Some of your closest allies have jumped ship, and shanked you in the back on the way out the door with bitchy tell-all memoirs that excoriate you for not heeding their advice. The rest of the inner circle seems to have lost faith: faith in the office, faith that anything will get better, faith in you.

Yes, put yourself in Obama’s chair, right there in the cockpit of the Oval Office, under these tremulous circumstances. What would you do when you’re flatlining and there’s no quick fix, no patch, no system upgrade that will reboot the program? What is to be done? You unlock that secret drawer and pull out the old playbook, the binding worn by numerous desperate hands before your own, you pencil in some innovations, a few of your signature moves and then let rip by declaring a new war.

Well, not exactly “declaring” war. That would be problematic. Hmm. There is that sweeping Authorization for Use of Military Force cooked up by Bush’s crack team of lawyers back in 2001, the one that sanctioned unilateral war across the Middle East from Afghanistan to Somalia to Iraq. Of course, you once denounced that very document as “constitutional over-reach” but who will hold those naïve opinions against you now?

In any event, this won’t be a war like Bush’s. In fact, it won’t be a “war” at all. It will be history’s first un-war, a military action of higher moral purpose, designed not for acquisition of land or resources or as a punitive measure or as a settling of old scores. These carefully calibrated missile and drone strikes will be entirely benign, computer-targeted only at the forces of darkness, to keep them from defiling the bodies of the innocent. These bombs are meant to protect not destroy, each one carrying a Humanitarian Exemption for any troublesome collateral damage.

But what’s the pretext? How can military intervention be sold to a war-weary nation that knows next to nothing about ISIS? When 9 out of 10 members of your own cabinet couldn’t name the leader of the new Caliphate. Fear is good. Yes, fear is the ticket. Turn the creeping national anxiety to your own advantage. Use the very anonymity of ISIS to hype the spook factor.

Bush labored too hard to market the Iraq war. He had to resort to far-fetched claims about Saddam palling around with Bin Laden or stockpiling an arsenal of chemical weapons and suitcase nukes. Bush had to stretch credibility to the snapping point.

But you’re smarter. There’s no reason to invoke mysterious subplots like the Nigerian yellowcake of Cheney’s apocalyptic fantasies. You know that the intimate fears are the ones that haunt us most. The suburban disquietude that plays out in so many movies on the Lifetime channel: the fear of intruders, of being a captive, of being held by violent thugs with no capacity for empathy, of being bound and gagged and decapitated with a scimitar. Those are the sinister scenarios that strike right at the gut and trouble our sleep.

Let the media sell the war for you. Ratcheting the fear index is the press’s new métier. They will portray ISIS as a kind of zombie army, capable of engaging in acts of unrivalled depravity. They will even provide the visuals, the terrifying optics of black flags, beheadings and gun-toting masked teenagers roaring into remote desert towns like Marlon Brando’s gang in The Wild Ones.

There’s no one to oppose you. Even Red State America recoils at the bellowing of the boots-on-the-ground right, represented by the increasingly psychotic ravings of John McCain. And the anti-war Left collapsed faster than the Iraqi army. The field is yours to take.

The deep advantage of the un-war is that it’s largely a hidden operation, where most of the dirty work plays out in the shadow realm of hunter-killer squads, mercenaries and private contractors. Your hands remain clean. The un-war is a low-risk affair that yields spectacular profits for those with the sense to maintain healthy positions in Pentagon ponzi schemes.

The un-war is a conflict without a deflating parade of American body bags, where the lethal risk will only materialize years, perhaps decades, later, in a time-released form of blowback — probably, it must be said, finally exploding in some mall in the heartland. But who will ever recall the spark that lit that distant fuse?

The problem is: you’re Barack Obama. Despite his impressive body count (and, yes, the Pentagon is in the body count business again), Obama just can’t seem to acquire any cred as the stone-cold killer he is. Perhaps it’s the halo of righteousness he coolly assumes about the sanctity of each operation. Obama’s piety is his tell, his giveaway, his consciousness of guilt. No one really wants their Commander-in-Chief, their Drone Czar, to consult the homilies of Aquinas before each killshot.

So Obama made all the right moves, but still continues to dissolve before our eyes. He launched his un-war, but was un-done by the karmic vagaries of politics. Namaste.

(Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at:

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by Jonathan Middlebrook

Imperial airman, CoCotry, the third musketeer

Veterans — still somewhat on my mind when I turned into Starbucks’ drive-thru. Favorite barista recognized my voice over the intercom: “Hi, Al, how you doing tonight?” he asked. Placed my order & as I moseyed around to the service window, I pictured him: 18-20 years old, clear-eyed, witty, wirelessed-up with headset microphone & a script which he humanizes by remembering customers’ monikers. And always a sharp tie. I began to worry. At the window I called him over (9 p.m., no other customers). “Well, my man, whatever they tell you at the recruitment office, [BEGIN ital] Don’t sign! [END ital]-- Even if they promise you Stanford.” We had a surprisingly detailed conversation about college, Air Force enlistment. His plan: out after 6 years, and into civil avionics & helicopters. “That’s if they don’t hit you with a stop-loss while you’re deployed to some place with mountains & fog & suicidists.“ “It’s tuition,” he said. “It’s either Air Force . . . or the CHP.”—As I drove off, I was thinking, That’s how they do it. That’s how they recruit the promising ones for service in an imperial army.--I bet some of my Carmody ancestors from County Clare served Victoria, Empress of India, when the praties they grew sma’.

Readers of this column doubtless remember that, on or about April Fools’ Day, the County fired our District Library Director. CEO Angelo had hired a Life Coach on a no-bid contract ($100/hour + travel costs up from San Diego) to assist in the massacree. I asked questions about LifeC’s professional resume, was stone- and spongewalled for months by our now-Interim County Counsel, Mr. Losak. CoCo opined that LifeC’s’s professional resume is a “personnel matter” whose release is exempt under California Government Code 6254(c). I checked. CoCo’s citation exempts only “Personnel, medical, or similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”-- I laughed, but CoCo wasn’t joking. Releasing LifeC’s professional resume, he really claimed, would be an unwarranted invasion of her personal privacy. Does such foolishness warrant his recent promotion?

Enter Matisse M. Knight — third musketeer of Carter, Momsen, Knight, LLC, retained by Citizen Middlebrook, who had tired of butting against walls, stone or sponge. Knight files a writ. CoCo responds that the filing was unnecessary, “if you would have called me prior to drafting it.”--I’d paraphrase Mr. Knight’s response as “Nuts!” But for the record, my paladin’s worth quotation: “Members of the public should not have to hire attorneys to get compliance with the Public Records Act . . . the idea that, once Mr. Middlebrook hired an attorney . . . the County would have provided the information (and thus avoid paying attorney fees incurred as the result of the County’s actions) is completely inconsistent with the intent of the PRA.”

Tune in — on Saturday for an unexpected turn of events.

Cliff-hanging is a residential style on the frontier, between Redwood and Potter valleys, where JM lives & reads enough law to know he needs a lawyer to read law.

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4-Part Harmony, Fibbing, Free Reign, Admit Nothing

No there there — Or, “You’re just saying that.”—On Thursday, I promised you a surprising turn. Try this one. Mr. Knight & Mr. Losak danced a bit and came to a 4-part agreement: Part #1: ”The County will provide a statement that the County did not have at the time of the request, nor at any time before receiving the request, Ms. ____’s CV, or any other document that contained her work history, education or training.”

That is — Mr. Losak, then Acting County Counsel, was fibbing – or making a private in-joke – when he said that releasing Ms. ____’s professional resume would invade her privacy. There was no professional resume to release, and rather than fess up to County mis- or malfeasance in hiring, he reached for cover-up: “Personnel matter--confidential” stamped on an embarrassing file.

Who’s harmed? — The degrees of harm can be argued, but I’d say, stay upwind of 3 people: 1) CEO Angelo. She hired Ms. ___. 2) Ms. Weselsky, head of HR and (I assume) overseer of hiring contracts. 3) Mr. Losak, who probably was trying to keep shoddy County practice under wraps. After all, he works in Fortress Low Gap, at the pleasure of the BoS, which means at the CEO’s pleasure, since the BoS gives her free reign (I chose that spelling of the homophone).

Agreement, Part #2 — “The County will provide a copy of Ms. ___’s current Resume, showing her work history, education, and training.”—OK. I now have the resume. Perhaps enough said. Ms. ___ is an underling in this serio-comic tale. We don’t blame Rosenkrantz & Guildenstern for rot in the State of Denmark.

Agreement, Part #3 — “All attorneys in the Mendocino County Counsel’s Office will attend one hour of CLE training in the California Public Records Act prior to the end of the calendar year 2015.”—That act, in part, reads: “6250. In enacting this chapter, the Legislature, mindful of the right of individuals to privacy, finds and declares that access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state.”

Agreement, Part #4— “Mendocino County shall pay to Matisse M. Knight the sum of $2000 for attorney fees and costs.”—Yes, the labourer is worthy of his hire, and this small, revelatory event has cost the County (that’s you & me) money. $2k. A small sum, as these things go (Ms. ___’s travel costs to & from San Diego were more than $4k), and worth it, if more locals and Supervisors ask questions, which the County Counsel’s staff will be trained to help them frame in such ways as reveal to the public what the public needs to know.—[BEGIN ital] per [END ital] Cal. Gov. Code 6253.1(a).

Oh, yes — “By agreeing to the above the county is not in any way admitting that it did anything wrong . . .”.

JM, though he lives on the frontier, between Potter & Redwood valleys, thinks we’re all in this together, so we’d better watch their slippery steps.

* * *

In Actual Emergency, Atomic Stink, Imaginative Deficit, Solid Waste

KZYX — “If this had been an actual emergency . . .”.—Was sitting, typing, when the radio klaxon went off. Didn’t miss a stroke, but there are times when the momentary distraction is dangerous – up a shaky ladder, say, replacing swing ropes; driving on serpentine Rt. 253, rushing toward an over-the-line logging truck.--Why not, KZYX, announce (before the squawk) that the test is coming? – I’m assuming there’s no rule, requiring audience surprise, that Mr. Sacowicz can snitch about to the FCC.

NPR — had one of those Scientist!-proves-the-obvious stories (11/16), this one about identifying smells. The S! (!Neurosurgeon! but not at Stanford) has co-authored a paper demonstrating that, while human noses “can discriminate odor molecules [i.e., stinks] that maybe differ by one single atom,” blindfolded humans can’t identify the sources of those molecules, attars, essences, aromas & reeks very well. – Interviewer sums up scientific situation: “he says it’s almost as if humans have a neurological deficit when it comes to smells.”—Nope. It’s an imaginative deficit, as the good Doc perhaps unconsciously proves. He blindfolds you & challenges you to “name” (context suggests he means ‘describe’) the smell of an orange: “You might say citrus. You might say lemons . . . fruity or . . . my grandmother’s sock drawer.”-- That’s it! Challenge met: I know nothing of my grandmothers’ sock drawers, but I now know the smell of orange in a human significance (perhaps w/in atomic range of clove & memory of Nanny --we don’t make grandmothers the way they did in the rural 1920s).--Parents, read poetry to your children—“I have promises to keep”-- but don’t let them grow up to be winery shills: “Vibrant ruby red grapefruit explodes from the glass on the nose while the mid-palate beautifully balances stonefruit and acid resulting in a crisp, refreshing finish.” –Gag, sideways, at $23/bottle.

“Solid waste — is where it’s at.” So says Mary Ann Landis. Our conversation was about Ukiah’s ban on polystyrene food containers. We disagree. She’s for it. I think it’s pointless, feel-good law. I mentioned Mike Sweeney saying the ban won’t reduce litter, just somewhat change the mix of what’s in creeks, streets, landfill. Mary Ann said she’s more concerned about fish than litter. I said that Starbucks tells me paper cups are not recyclable, so they end up in landfill, taking up much more room than polystyrene.—Practically speaking, neither treated paper nor polystyrene decomposes. Mary Ann wants to save fish. I’d like to build houses from recycled polystyrene blocks. Mike Sweeney says I’ll never get enough polystyrene to do so, and make money. But I’ve been served good food in a house, out Orr Springs Road & built with polystyrene blocks. Looks just like a regular stucco house. But then, Mr. Sweeney says can’t recycle food-container polystyrene.-- See you at the landfill, after you’ve reduced, reused, recycled. Isis will show you the way.

(JM lives on the frontier, between Redwood & Potter valleys, where he picks up a fair amount of litter, after the waste management trucks have left. No Devil’s handwork for him, on pick-up day. Mr. Middlebrook adds: “This column ran in UDJ, 11/21.")

* * *

THE IMMEDIATE ITINERARY. Place to place... I've made my reservation. I will be at Berkeley's Piedmont House hostel located at 2434 Piedmont Ave. between Haste & Dwight (Telephone 510-849-4800) from Monday November 24th until noon December 1st. Am leaving Green Tortoise hostel at 11AM Monday morning; I may arrive at the Berkeley hostel before the 4PM check-in time, stash my backpack, leave and then return for the 4PM formal check-in. This sums up my immediate itinerary. ;-) — Craig Louis Stehr

One Comment

  1. james marmon November 23, 2014

    It appears to me that Redwood Children’s Services (RCS) is somehow receiving a free pass as far as their role in “manipulating” the mental health privatization contracts. RCS conspired right along with Pinizzotto and Ortner to assure that they were successful in their takeover of “all” the mental health services being provided to children throughout the county. In order for them to grab complete control they needed Ortner to win the adult contract. It is my guess that the reason Optum wasn’t considered a serious bidder was because they wanted to bid on both the adult and children system of care. Outsourcing the county’s children’s mental health services to anyone other than RCS was never a possibility. There was never an opportunity for the fair bidding process to evolve; the fix was in all the way.

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